Tuesday, March 01, 2005

THE H-BOMB AND THE HUMAN FACTOR:

Today, March 1, marks the 51st anniversay of the testing of 'Bravo', the largest nuclear test ever conducted by the US. It was detonated on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. The fireball from the bomb spread for almost three miles and gouged a crater a mile in diameter. Physicist Marshall Rosenbluth said that the fireball "just kept rising and rising, and spreading...it looked to me like what you might imagine a diseased brain, or a brain of some mad man would look like on the surface...and the air started getting filled with this gray stuff, which I guess was somewhat radioactive coral."

The scientists underestimated the result; while they expected 5 megatons of TNT, it was closer to a more 'fortuitous' 15 megatons, which was about 1000 times the force of the blast that destroyed Hiroshima.

This was the same bomb from which fallout drifted far and wide and settled on a Japanese fishing vessel (the name of which I think ironically was 'The lucky dragon') killing one and causing severe radiation sickness to the others. The US paid a couple of million dollars to the Japanese Government in compensation. In the last many years, the US Government has paid millions of dollars in compensation to inhabitant families of the Marshall Islands (Remember; for everything, there's Mastercard; apparently human lives have always been among the things money can buy).

The last time I remember reading about it, the Bush Government is apparently going to cut down the time required for testing. After all, if yields are more than what you expect, it can only be a happy circumstance, right?

I also remember Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, talking straight into the camera in Errol Morris's 'The Fog of War'. He says, "During my tenure, they tested a 100 megaton bomb. Cold War??? Hell! It was a Hot War!!"

2 Comments:

Blogger Sumedha said...

This is what really ups the ante: Russia's nuclear arsenal is a disaster waiting to happen, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Has Putin brought order from anarchy?

8:56 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

I am not sure about the status of Russia's nuclear arsenal, although I won't be surprised if a lot of it has already been smuggled through the black market.

11:00 AM  

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